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New proposals may soon prohibit fruit and sweet-flavoured disposable vapes for teenagers, in response to growing concerns about young people becoming addicted to multi-colored Elf Bars and similar items. It is anticipated that officials will introduce extensive limitations on vape access for individuals under 18 years of age.
Neil O'Brien, a public health minister, is expected to initiate a call for evidence in the coming days to examine the possibility of restricting access to nicotine products for those under 18, as reported by The Sun. The review will likely investigate the "appearance and characteristics" of vape products, including branding, marketing, color, and flavors.
Furthermore, the investigation will explore how these products are promoted on social media platforms, given worries that bright packaging and enticing flavor names like Coconut Melon, Cotton Candy Ice, and Strawberry Ice Cream are luring young customers. The Sun reports that Mr. O'Brien plans to launch a professional consultation on safeguarding young people during a significant speech on smoking next month.
In addition, the MP for Harborough is anticipated to formally address an independent review by Dr. Javed Khan OBE regarding the government's goal to make England and Wales smoke-free by 2030. Dr. Khan's review, published in June, recommended banning smoking in outdoor areas and emphasized the need for immediate reforms to achieve the smoke-free target.
Among the proposals were requiring anti-smoking messages on cigarette sticks, such as the number of "minutes of life lost" per cigarette, and designing cigarettes with "dissuasive colors" and a "smoking kills" warning. However, The Sun alleges that officials are now likely to dismiss Dr. Khan's suggestions, with a Whitehall source stating, "That is not something we are looking at taking forward."
According to 2021 NHS data, 5% of adults were classified as current e-cigarette users. The data also showed that nearly one in ten 11- to 15-year-olds vaped, an increase from 6% in 2018, with the figure rising to almost one in five among those over 15. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care reiterated the government's commitment to being smoke-free by 2030 and stated, "Smoking kills, so our priority is to prevent people from smoking and supporting them to quit."